Oak Red Listing Project Update

Seedlings of Quercus oglethorpensis (listed as endonagered on the IUCN Red List) photographed by Andrew Bunting in Japser Co, Georgia, USA, during an expedition by the Plant Collective Collaborative in October 2015.

In January, 2015, The Morton Arboretum launched a project in collaboration with BGCI and the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group, which aims to complete IUCN Red List threat assessments for all of the world's oak species. Many oak species are known to be facing habitat destruction, climate change, invasive pests and pathogens, and competition from invasive plants. Therefore, it is important to have an up-to-date understanding of the threats facing this globally important tree genus.

To complete the Red List assessments, we have been gathering extensive data on oak distributions, threats, population trends, and human uses. Development of relationships with the global network of oak experts is a key step, and the International Oak Society network has been, and continues to be, a valuable resource for the oak red listing project. We thank all involved individuals for their help so far, and look forward to further input from IOS members as we continue to pursue our goal.

At this time, we would like to announce a new milestone in our project—the completion of a final list of the oaks of the Americas that will be used as the basis for our IUCN Red List assessments! (You can download the list here; for an explanation of the assessment status codes, visit www.iucnredlist.org.) Since there is no single agreed upon global checklist for oak species, we have reviewed many sources and collaborated with a variety of experts to create a conservation-focused species list. We will be completing a final species list for the Old World oaks within the coming months.

For a year-end update on our assessment progress, 65 assessments were accepted by IUCN in 2015, 52 of which have been published on the Red List and are available to the public (www.iucnredlist.org). The next update to the Red List will be in summer 2016.

Please don’t hesitate to share with us your new or changing insights regarding oak taxonomy or conservation issues.

For further information on the oak red listing project or to contribute data, please contact Dr. Murphy Westwood, Tree Conservation Specialist at The Morton Arboretum: mwestwood@mortonarb.org

Emily Beckman & Murphy Westwood